Need some tips on writing to trusts and foundations? Here are 10 good ones from Ewan Hastings
Over the years as a charity fundraiser I have gained a lot of useful tips from various fundraising peers, managers, colleagues, fundraising experts, books, seminars and training courses. I have always been careful to learn from the wisdom of others; the way I look at it is that the person telling me has probably learned them the hard way: through mistake or hard graft.
Now, as I celebrate the start of my 22nd year in fundraising, I feel the time is right to start passing on the lessons I’ve learned to less experienced grants fundraisers out there. So here are ten of the best tips I’ve come across for writing to trusts and foundations:
1. If asking for an application form, make sure you enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The trust will be more responsive to supporting you.
2. Money: A good way to mention money is to say you are “seeking a grant up to….”.
3. Make sure you understand what the difference is between ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’ and other commonly used funder-speak by using the Jargonbuster document, which is available to download for free.
4. Refresh yourself on how to understand questions.
5. If applying for Big Lottery funding, pull out the questions from the Help Notes document and go through each question with your service colleagues. (This is best done away from the office where you can concentrate on the answers they give.)
6. Review your standard letters at least once a month. Can you update anything? Is the spelling still correct? Does the letter need to be rewritten?
7. Keep a list of where you have answered trusts' questions before. It saves a lot of time in rewriting answers to the same questions in the future.
8. To rate the success of a future project think: “What would success look like, and what would we know when we got there?”
9. Phone up the trust in the first instance (if there’s a phone number) – it establishes if they have any money left to distribute, and lets them find out a little more about your organisation.
10. Use the tips you get given – they’re given because they have been found to have worked!
Ewan Hastings MInstF(Dip) is a fundraiser with 21 years' experience. He has worked as a full-time fundraiser for nine UK charities and has spent 13 years fundraising from trusts and foundations. For tips covering all aspects of applying for grant funding, Download Ewan’s new ebook, Trusts and Foundations Fundraising Success Top Tips: Valuable Lessons from an Old-Dog Fundraiser, available now on Kindle. www.positivefundraising.yolasite.com